Introduction: In the Midst of Global Power Shifts

  • Hendrik W. Ohnesorge
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


The chapter identifies the existence of two different yet interconnected global power shifts as crucially shaping the nature of international relations today. First, the phenomenon of power transitions, that is, the shifting power positions of nation-states or regions, which has always been a feature in the international affairs, is identified as having gained new momentum in recent years, especially due to the much-debated rise of China. Second, a variety of different developments has increasingly led to ever-greater power diffusion, resulting in an unprecedented dispersion of power among different actors and actor types on the international stage.

Against the backdrop of these developments, the author identifies the phenomenon of soft power as becoming increasingly important in our global information age. Proceeding from a review of existing literature on the concept of (soft) power, he identifies pivotal research gaps in this regard, including the need for a more substantiated and sophisticated understanding of the concept itself as well as a demand for methodologically sound approaches to the empirical study of the workings of soft power in international relations today.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hendrik W. Ohnesorge
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Global StudiesUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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